Enhancing Student Learning in Interior Design Through iPad Technology

Concurrent Session 7

Session Materials

Brief Abstract

Innovative teaching through students-centered use of iPad and its positive impact on meeting different learning styles, promoting students’ creativity, self-reflection and collaboration.

Extended Abstract

Summary of three takeaways for participants:

  • Students-centered use of iPad and its positive impact on meeting different learning styles, promoting students’ creativity, self-reflection and collaboration.

  • Process of onboarding with iPad program: think about the real value of the technology, careful planning, faculty training, collaboration between ID and faculty

  • Take-home activity: Participants will be provided with template for creating an iMovie project for their own discipline, including the process of storyboarding - shooting/collecting material - editing - sharing. (Device with iMovie installed is needed)



This teaching innovation is part of the iPad initiative at our institution. Internal and external experts provided faculty training on meaningful integration of iPad in teaching. Students are loaned iPad Pro, keyboard and Apple Pencil.


Literature Review

    While scholarly work and documented practices on smart mobile devices such as iPad has been emerging quickly in the recent years, our proposal is able to fill in a vacuum in current literature because of the following reasons.

    First, previous research shows that design students typically used smart mobile devices in “superficial ways such as sharing and presenting” (Page, 2014), the students in this project used iPad to create, reiterate in addition to share and present their design. The streamlined workflow and comprehensive integration of iPad into the design process is the first of its kind.

    Second, most of current research on use of mobile devices in the classroom has been conducted in secondary and elementary contexts (Henderson and Yeow, 2012, Shah, 2011 ; the few higher education ones are done at least a few years ago when earlier versions of iPad were used.(Cochrane et al, 2013) Therefore, they fail to reflect the latest smart mobile device technology and the hundreds of thousands of design application that have been developed over the years.The devices used in this project are the latest iPad Pro 9.7 inches; students also have a detachable keyboard and Apple Pencil, which we find work really to the advantage of our discipline. In a word, this will be the very first documented project in higher education with the latest iPad technology in the field of interior design education.


Main Topics

A couple of different applications (Apps) have been purposefully integrated in this graduate interior architecture class. They are the following. Each App is briefly described, followed by its impact on student learning.    


Trace by Morpholio: digital sketching App for design

  • Trace helps student understand how to use the layout of the space. Its free form allows students to think more freely. For example, instead of drawing solid lines, students can use spray paint to differentiate space, which help them visualize different ways of dividing space than using a wall.This universal design for learning (Rose and Meyer, 2002) has proven valuable in helping our students. The “layering” function of Trace, which allow students to sketch on different layers and then add or remove layers with one-click, enables easy back and forth review of ideas.

  • While paper can be lost easily, Trace keeps all student work on one digital device, a one-stop solution for what used to be a challenge.


Notability: digital note taking

  • In the previous summer, students used Notability for note-taking. In the Fall they will use it as a reflection tool in order to more intentionally focus on the progress of their work and the process of design.


iMovie on iPad: portable multimedia production tool

  • Students created a collaborative project using iMovie. Compared with the past when board work was assigned, students are more engaged. Thanks to the affordance of Cloud sharing, one student was able to participate in the project while traveling home to Myanmar.


We currently have an ongoing session of the course in fall 2017. The project started from fall 2016 and we have had this current cohort of student from summer 2017. Presently, a fair amount of student work has been collected and we have heard positive feedback from the students. As this initiative continues, we are confident that more evidence could be gathered to illustrate the revolutionary and positive effect of this initiative. We are also looking into other emerging applications that could be helpful.


Relevance to other discipline, students?

Although we worked with graduate students in interior design, the integration of iPad technology can be beneficial to a variety of discipline. The digital sketching and drawing applications such as Trace could be useful to fine arts, architecture and engineering students and faculty. While general utility application such Notability helps all students foster habits that enhance their learning mastery; multimedia authoring application such as iMovie and Garageband provide an assessment method that engage the students much more effectively.


Participant involvement

During the presentation, we plan to provide live demonstration of the Applications. Participants will be invited to download some of the Apps in advance and try some of the features on their own. We will provide templates for teacher and students as well as ideas for practical classroom activities, all of which participants will have the opportunity to try on their own and take home.



Sample presentation slides featuring student work, App overview and images from the classroom





Cochrane, T., Narayan, V., & Oldfield, J. (2013). iPadagogy: appropriating the iPad within pedagogical contexts. International Journal of Mobile Learning and Organisation, 7(1), 48-65.


Henderson, S., & Yeow, J. (2012, January). iPad in education: A case study of iPad adoption and use in a primary school. In System science (hicss), 2012 45th hawaii international conference on (pp. 78-87). IEEE.


Rose, D. H., & Meyer, A. (2002). Teaching every student in the digital age: Universal design for learning. Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, 1703 N. Beauregard St., Alexandria, V


Page, T. (2014). Application-based mobile devices in design education. International Journal of Mobile Learning and Organisation, 8(2), 96-111.


Shah, N. (2011). Special education pupils find learning tool in iPad applications. Education week, 30(22), 1-16.